Boston Group Targets Broadband Content


Denver -- A small group of young software and encryption
engineers funded by cable-modem pioneer Rouzbeh Yassini thinks that it has a way to make
CD-ROM content play on broadband networks.

Based in Cambridge, Mass., the group is calling itself
Arepa Inc., and it is led by a 24-year-old entrepreneur, Ric Fulop, who chased down
financial and strategic backing while he was in college.

Fulop's mission: to quickly jump-start broadband content by
enabling operators to tap the $6 billion in existing CD-ROM software for use in their
high-speed-data networks.

"This is the missing piece of the broadband
puzzle," said Yassini, who is also Arepa's chairman. "Now that broadband
deployment has begun, there is a need for a common, open platform that will deliver real
quality broadband service to each consumer."

Dave Fellows, senior vice president of Internet engineering
and operations at U S West Media Group (UMG), called Arepa's work "truly a

"The success of any paradigm shift is based on the
ability to create an application compelling enough to bring it into the mass market,"
Fellows said.

Arepa's plan is to develop a new content platform capable
of securely delivering full-featured applications, such as CD-ROM content and large
software titles, while eliminating downloading and installing.

Besides UMG, Arepa has attracted interest from @Home

Using Arepa's platform, personal computer users connected
to a broadband service will be able to click and play thousands of broadband applications
and software titles, ranging from multimedia CD-ROM games and education to powerful
productivity programs.

"Because of this, broadband networks will gain
immediate access to large libraries of compelling, high-bandwidth content and
applications," Fulop said

The technology works by sitting an Arepa server at each
point of the content-distribution chain: at the software-origination point, such as
Microsoft Corp. or Broderbund Inc.; at the regional data center; and at the cable headend.

Arepa software secures and encrypts a CD-ROM session with a
user, then serves it up dynamically so that users see a seamless flow of events over their
cable modem to their PC.

"This is a way to have transaction-based content that
we get paid for, as opposed to the existing Web model," Fellows said.